Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our Compost Bin

So, this is the compost bin I built using 3 (free) wooden pallets.  It's not beautiful, but it sits behind the shed, so we can't see it from the house. It's close enough to the house and the garden plot to be convenient.  I cleared and broke up the ground inside the bin to prepare the spot. Then set up and screwed together the three pallets.  I did not close the bin in so that it will be easier to access and turn over.  However, if you have animals in your backyard, or do not have a completely fenced in yard, you could attach a 4th pallet (perhaps with a hinge?) so that it could be swung open for turning over the pile.

Now, I'm ready to load it up with goodies.  From left to right:  First, I have shredded newspaper straight from our shredder.  This helps to balance the pH levels of the compost.  Next, is my kitchen countertop scrap collecting cannister.  I have it by my cutting board and use it to catch anything that needs to go out to the pile.  (Be sure that this is an airtight container; otherwise, you will have a haven for those little fruit fly/gnat things on your kitchen counter.) Things that CAN be included are any uncooked fruit or vegetable scrap.  Things that cannot be inculded are basically everything else.  This is not just a dinner scrap pile!  Meats or oils will attract animals and will cause the pile to stink.  Lastly, I've included some lawn trash.  Lawn trash can be grass clippings or raked leaves.  It really shouldn't be weeds unless the pile is already established and hot.  Lastly, the pile needs to be damp in order to activate properly.  Just mix all that up and use a shovel to turn it in with some of the dirt below the pile. In a matter of days, it will get hot and the produce scraps will begin to decompose.  Within weeks, I'll have great compost to add to next year's garden!

Now that my pile is established, all I have to do is use my pitchfork every few days to turn everything over and be sure that it stays a bit damp.  Nature does the rest.

We've been recycling for awhile (even though I have to haul it to the plant myself), but I was amazed at how adding composting to our routine has cut down on our trash.  This pic is of one week's worth of stuff I am hauling to the recycling plant.  (I realize that it may not seem very "green" to carry recycling in plastic bags, but after finding the dumpsters at the plant full a time or two and not having a way to dump my loose recycling, I decided that this is the way to go.)

Brace yourself.  This is not a manufactured photo.  I am quite proud of this photo of a kitchen-sized bag of trash.  This is all the trash that our family of 5 will be sending to the landfill this week.  Hurray for us!  Between recycling and composting, we've been able to cut it to this!  You don't have to be an extreme environmental activist to recognize that the less we pile into our landfills the better, and recycling and composting are something that nearly everyone with a little bit of space can do!